So, in case you need a boost:
I am writing to tell you the denouement of my quest to publish my first novel.
To briefly recap: I wrote to you when I was going to a conference to get my query/first pages critiqued. I took the advice of you and the candid Reiders and sat there with my mouth shut and took notes. I revised based on suggestions and queried my heart out on this, my third novel. The rejections I received for that book, added to the ones for my first two, totaled somewhere around 200. (Give or take another hundred or so but who's counting.)
But. I learned a lot, and applied it all to novel number four's query. Novel four won an award for unpublished authors. I revised again anyway. I queried agents, and I signed with an amazing one. And this past week, the announcement for my two book deal went out in Publishers Weekly so that must mean it's real! (Book one is a YA high school political reimagining of "Dear Mr. Henshaw" currently titled "Dear Rachel Maddow").
So though I have yet to have enough nerve to post in the comments (there is some irony in that I realize), know that I religiously read this blog and follow the consider the council of the commenters. Thank you, thank you, thank you Janet and to the community you have created. If I have one piece of advice for my fellow authors--never stop writing.
I've been wanting to send this email for a while, but I just never knew how because I didn't want to be presumptuous. Your post today about anxiety and your community struck a chord, however, and I thought it was probably time, as I owe a lot to you.
I wanted to let you know I have a new book coming out soon. Part of the reason I've been hesitant to say anything is because it's self-published (I like to call it indie published because I have my own company and hire out for things like cover and interior design), and self-publishing still seems to have a poor reputation, despite the amount of work and care that goes into it.
I'm proud of this book. I'm more proud of it than anything I've ever done in my life because there was a time when I was physically and mentally unable to write due to neurological issues, and I fought for every word. And I'm proud of it because it has continued to push me forward through recovery. I was telling my mom yesterday that if this was the last book I'd ever write (it's decidedly not, but if it was...), then I would be satisfied because everything I could ever want to say is wrapped up in this book.
I don't know if you remember, but about six months ago, I reached out to you because I was really struggling with whether to go the traditional publishing route or to self-publish. I'd received some full requests and complimentary words from agents, but nothing was catching--it felt like my work didn't belong anywhere, and I didn't know what to do with that. That inner voice kept telling me that even if I did land an agent and a traditional deal, I still wanted to do it my way because this book is so personal and I didn't want to wait for it to be available. My ego and ambition wanted the glory; my heart and soul wanted to be able to help people, for it to mean something on that level.
That's when I reached out to you, and you gave me perhaps one of the greatest pieces of advice I've ever received, wrapped in a lesson I'll never forget. You said that there will be people who need this book, that in the middle of the night, when they feel alone because of their illness, they'll find my book and know that someone understands. You said--and I'll never forget this--that I'd be lighting candles in a dark world.
It made me cry then, and damnit, it's making me cry now. Because that's all I've ever wanted out of life--to be able to heal people of their pain. And now, in even a small way, I'm able to do that. With this book, I feel like I've followed a personal path that has helped me heal, that will hopefully help others heal, while staying true to myself and my purpose, and I'm more proud of that than anything else. And I owe you so much for it. Because I wouldn't have gotten here without you. You helped reignite that flame in me that had grown dim, and now I feel like I have a place in the world again, when I was once doing little more than existing. This book gave me my hope back; you gave me back my belief in myself.
Your takeaway here:
Never stop writing.
Never lose faith.